How Will Osteoarthritis Of The Spine Affect Me
The first sign of osteoarthritis of the spine is usually pain and stiffness in your back or neck.
The condition can be difficult to diagnose, as it can be hard to tell which symptoms are linked to osteoarthritis. It can even be hard to spot back and neck problems on x-rays of the spine, as changes caused by osteoarthritis dont always cause pain.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine will vary from person to person. The most common symptoms are:
- pain in your back or neck
- stiffness, especially first thing in the morning or after resting
- crunching or grinding noises when moving your back or neck.
People who have osteoarthritis in their neck might also have headaches or feel pain in their shoulders and arms.
Its normal for the cartilage in our joints to get thinner, especially as we get older. But in people with osteoarthritis, its the bodys normal process of repairing damage to joints that can cause pain and stiffness.
When the body starts to repair damage to cartilage, the whole joint can be affected including the bone, tendons and ligaments.
During the repair process, the edges of the bones in the spine can grow outwards, forming bony spurs. These are known as osteophytes . The discs between the vertebrae in the spine can also become thinner.
Who Gets Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
In general, osteoarthritis happens as people get older. Younger people may get it from one of several different causes:
- injury or trauma to a joint
- a genetic defect involving cartilage
For people younger than age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among men. After age 45, osteoarthritis is more common among women. Osteoarthritis occurs more often among people who are overweight. It also occurs more frequently in those who have jobs or do sports that put repetitive stress on certain joints.
Can Lumbar Arthritis Be Prevented
Your age, family history, and gender can all contribute to arthritis development. Although these factors are outside of your control, there are certain things that you can do to limit the pressure on your vertebrae. Reduced pressure may prevent flares of lumbar arthritis or other symptoms.
To reduce your risk of flare-ups:
Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can put unnecessary stress on your joints.
Opt for low-impact exercise. Stretching, yoga, and swimming can all relieve pressure on your back.
Move with care. When dealing with heavy objects, be sure to lift with your knees and not with your back.
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Stop Ignoring Your Physical Limitations
Just as there are people with arthritis who aren’t active at all, there are those who push beyond their limits. The trick is to pace your activities. Overdoing it is just as harmful as underdoing it.
Pushing your limits can increase pain and put you at higher risk of joint damage. Respect pain and choose activities with your physical limitations in mind.
Overview Of Medications Used To Treat Spinal Arthritis A Common Cause Of Back Pain Also Called Osteoarthritis Or Spondylosis
The type of arthritis that more commonly affects the spine is osteoarthritis, also called spondylosis. Other types of arthritis that are inflammatory in nature include rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Here, youll learn about medications for osteoarthritis that affects your neck , mid back , and/or low back .It is not uncommon for arthritic neck or back pain to be accompanied by other symptoms, such as tingling sensations, numbness, or muscle spasms. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
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What Can Be Done For Arthritis In The Back
Conventional approaches to ease arthritis back pain may include:
- Alternative treatments such as acupuncture or chiropractic manipulation.
- Medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support the back.
- Regular exercise and weight loss, which can increase the flexibility and strength of back muscles.
- Surgical treatment to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves or spine.
Alternative Remedies And Treatments
Nutritional supplementation is helpful to some patients though the science on this is not entirely supportive of their effectiveness.
There are some studies to suggest that acupuncture can decrease the pain associated with osteoarthritis of the hip.
Although there is little hard science on this point, most hip surgeons and rheumatologists believe that patients with osteoarthritis of the hip should consider avoiding impact sports such as running in order to avoid increasing the rate at which the disease progresses.
It is important that patients with osteoarthritis of the hip avoid decreasing their activity level and it is important that they remain fit. However this often does require some modification of exercise programs running and walking programs are usually poorly tolerated by patients with osteoarthritis of the hip. Stationary bike, swimming and water aerobics usually are well-tolerated and they are recommended.
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Self Care And Exercise To Treat Spine Osteoarthritis
Back pain from osteoarthritis can make a person feel helpless, but several steps can be taken at home to ease pain and improve spine function.
While self-care and exercise are considered safe for most people with spinal osteoarthritis, it is a good idea to consult with a doctor or physical therapist first. A health professional can consider a patients unique circumstances and provide advice about which home treatments will be the most safe and potentially beneficial.
What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that causes chronic spine inflammation. Ankylosing spondylitis inflames the sacroiliac joints located between the base of the spine and pelvis. This inflammation, called sacroiliitis, is one of the first signs of AS. Inflammation often spreads to joints between the vertebrae, the bones that make up the spinal column. This condition is known as spondylitis.
Some people with AS experience severe, persistent back and hip pain and stiffness. Others have milder symptoms that come and go. Over time, new bone formations may fuse vertebrae sections together, making the spine rigid. This condition is called ankylosis.
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How Is Arthritis In The Spine Treated
The available treatment options to the condition are wide and are directed towards the alleviation of the symptoms of pain. The primary goal of treatment is to increase a persons ability to function every day, improve his mobility, and also help in his feeling of helplessness which many patients often succumb to.
The recommended exercises for arthritis in the back are:
Conditions With Similar Symptoms
A number of conditions that are not actually related to the hip joint can cause hip joint pain and symptoms in the “hip” area. These include:
Spinal stenosis This condition most commonly causes pain in the buttock, low back, and back of the upper thigh . Spinal stenos is a lower-back problem, not a hip problem. Spinal stenosis causes pain in the buttock area that some identify as part of the “hip.”
Greater trochanteric bursitisThis causes pain over the point of the hip . It also causes tenderness and sensitivity to pressure. Although this seems like a hip problem, it is a problem well away from the joint itself and is related to an inflammation in a lubrication point called a bursa. Greater trochanteric bersitis is not a joint problem .
Non-orthopedic conditionsVery occasionally, non-orthopedic conditions can cause pain in the groin that masquerades as hip joint symptoms ovarian cysts, hernias, and other intra-pelvic conditions can sometimes cause pain that is mistaken for hip joint pain.
Other types of arthritisOther forms of arthritis can cause similar symptoms to osteoarthritis of the hip in particular, post-traumatic arthritis and avascular necrosis are almost indistinguishable in many cases from osteoarthritis of the hip.
The diagnosis of osteoarthritis versus rheumatoid arthritis can be made by a physician with experience in treating conditions of this type.
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Coping With Low Mood And Sleep Problems
Living with pain can affect your mood and sleep, and its normal to feel low from time to time. If this is something that affects you, try going along to a pain clinic, where you can learn how to manage your pain. Theyll usually take place at outpatient clinics, and you can be referred to them by whoever is treating you.
Pain can be affected by different things, including feeling low or stressed. There are a number of talking therapies and techniques you can learn, which can help you manage your pain, support your emotional wellbeing, and deal with any low feelings you might have. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy can help with osteoarthritis.
Learning to relax your muscles can also help, particularly if you have neck pain and are feeling stressed, as this can cause your muscles to become more tense.
A pillow thats too firm or thick can make neck pain worse. Try to sleep with your head level to the rest of your body. Its important to have a mattress that gives your head and spine proper support.
Try having a hot bath, reading a book, or listening to the radio or a relaxation CD to wind down before bed. If pain is waking you during the night, try taking paracetamol or another painkiller before bed. Talk to your doctor or a sleep expert for more advice.
Are There Any Complications
Some people who have osteoarthritis in their neck might have problems swallowing or when they speak, but this is not very common. This can be caused by bony spurs affecting blood supply to the spinal cord.
If you have osteoarthritis of the spine, you may have other problems that may need treating. Let your doctor know urgently if you:
- have trouble going for a wee, or feel like you need a wee when you dont
- lose control of your bladder or bowel the organs that control wee and poo
- have feelings of numbness or tingling around your genitals or bottom
- lose power in your legs
- feel unwell like having a fever or sweating.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that happens when the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord, gets narrower. The most common symptoms are pain and weakness or numbness in the area linked to the affected part of the spine such as the legs, arms, neck, back or shoulders.
Spinal stenosis is often caused by osteoarthritis, as the bony spurs that form on the edge of the vertebrae can irritate the nerves in your spine. It can usually be treated with exercise, over-the-counter drugs and steroid injections.
Sometimes surgery will be needed to remove the spurs and make space in the vertebral column.
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Hot And Cold Treatments
Many people have found that hot and cold treatments help relieve back pain. You might try both to find out which works better for you. Heat relaxes muscles and soothes painful areas. There are many ways to apply heat. Some people like hot showers or baths, while others prefer using heat lamps, heating pads or warm compresses. If you have arthritis, heating your muscles first might make it easier for you to do back exercises. Be sure not to fall asleep while using heat. Cold has a numbing effect. This often helps relieve pain. You might try one of these methods for applying cold:
- an ice bag
- a large ice cube used to massage the area
- a frozen package of vegetables
- a commercially made cold pack.
- Be sure not to leave ice on after the skin becomes numb. This could lead to localized frostbite. Do not use cold if you are especially sensitive to it or
- have decreased circulation or sensation. Read the pain management article for more information about heat and cold.
Managing Arthritis Pain And Fatigue
Several approaches can be used to manage the pain associated with osteoarthritis of the hip including:
- Activity modification appropriate kinds of exercise and weight loss when necessary may alleviate some hip arthritis symptoms
- Nutritional supplementation are helpful to some patients, although the literature on these supplements is not consistently in favor of their use
- Non-narcotic pain tablets , or over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, if medically appropriate, sometimes are helpful
- Prescription strength, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs are useful for some patients, though, in general, long-term use of these drugs is discouraged
- Arthritis unloader braces or hip sleeves are helpful for some patterns of arthritis
- Joint injections might help
- Total hip replacement surgery may be used if non-operative interventions dont suffice.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system turns on itself. It attacks the synovium â the lining of the joints. Although rheumatoid arthritis is more common in other joints, it can also affect the spine, specifically the cervical region . Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine is not caused by wear and tear, so itâs considered an inflammatory arthritis. It may cause back pain even when these joints are not in use. It tends to affect women more than men.
The Importance Of Seeing A Doctor
If you are having terrible back pain, please see a doctor. Keep fighting to get a proper diagnosis. It is a fight but the answers are out there. Remember that when psoriatic arthritis happens it can cause permanent damage.
Maybe you have found something that works for you. Please share in the comments. After all, we are all in this together fighting a disease that is invisible to those who do not have it.
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What Is Arthritis In The Spine
Arthritis back pain is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage between the vertebrae in the spine. The bones that make up the spinal column have spaces in between them and in between these spaces are cartilages that prevent the bones from grinding into each other. In cases where arthritis hits this area this can cause pain, although there are also cases when its asymptomatic. Osteoarthritis in the spine can also produce spurs that puts pressure on the nerves in the spinal column. This causes pain and also weakness in the arms and legs.
Arthritis in the spine can also lead to spine stenosis, a condition that refers to the narrowing of the spaces inside the spinal column. As the nerves inside the spine are forced into narrowing channels, this can subject them to too much pressure which results to pain. The pain often comes with tingling and numbness, muscle weakness, and even abnormal bowel or bladder functions. Although spinal stenosis can be caused by normal wear and tear in the spine, the ones caused by arthritis can come in faster with doctors having no choice but to perform surgery to address the problem.
How Is Spinal Arthritis Treated
The treatment for spinal arthritis depends on many factors. They may include your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis and personal health goals. Because the joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, the treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
Nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids to reduce pain and swelling
Other medications targeting specific symptoms or triggers of inflammatory arthritis
Physical therapy to improve back muscle strength and range of motion in the spine
Lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation or stress on your spine: losing weight, quitting smoking, changing your posture, etc.
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Medication Options For Neck Arthritis
Analgesic and NSAID pain medication
Over-the-counter medications can be used to help address pain, inflammation, and swelling. NSAIDs like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Analgesics can help with mild to moderate pain. Your doctor can prescribe a stronger anti-inflammatory if OTC medications dont provide relief.
Even though many commonly used NSAIDs are available over the counter, its important to talk to your doctor about side effects and drug interactions. NSAIDs can have significant side effects, including gastrointestinal complications, and are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Disease-modifying arthritis medication
Neck pain due to inflammatory arthritis is typically treated with a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug , such as methotrexate for RA. Other conventional DMARDs include leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine. Biologics are a newer type of DMARD that target specific immune system pathways. DMARDs help to reduce the immune system activity that is triggering inflammation and pain.
Steroid injections and nerve blocks
An epidural steroid injection is where doctors inject medicine directly into the epidural space of the spinal canal surrounding the nerve roots. The medicine is a combination of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic, which together reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
The anesthesia offers temporary pain relief and the corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the joint.
Exercise For Arthritis In The Neck
If youre experiencing neck pain due to arthritis, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy for neck arthritis entails doing specific exercises to help strengthen and stretch weak or strained muscles. Physical therapy can improve range of motion. Sessions and programs vary in length and frequency and are tailored to your condition.
The foundation of what were trying to do in physical therapy for the neck is often to help improve posture and the way people move, says Dr. Milani. Exercises in physical therapy tend to be focused on strengthening muscles of the back and neck, which puts less strain on structures of the cervical spine.
Youll do exercises during physical therapy and get instructions on ones to do at home.
Regular Physical Activity at Home
You may feel like you dont want to move when your neck hurts. But being inactive may increase stiffness, which can cause you to lose even more mobility. Aches and pains tend to respond better to continued movement than rest, says Dr. Milani. Exercise is often the foundation of treatment.
Exercises that involve stretching, strengthening, and improving range of motion can help reduce pain and keep your neck limber. You want to move gently and smoothly when doing neck exercises, not jerk your neck or make sudden movements. You may feel discomfort at first. Stop if any exercise increases your neck pain.
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